Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Summer in my backyard is all about tomatoes. The leaves smell sharp and green and delicious (I would never have guessed that they are poisonous). The fruit slowly changes from pale green pearls to bulging red globes, and its scent warms and intensifies. Nectarines and apricots make me want to gorge myself and soak in the sun, but tomatoes make me want to run and shout--which is closer to what summer is about, what life is about.

This year's tomatoes have stubbornly remained green. The pendulous roma tomatoes wait, and wait, as though immune to the sun's rays. They begin to blush, but refuse to deepen in color. I sit staring at them, as though I might embarrass them enough that the blood will suddenly rush to the surface and transform them to that rich tomato red, to that fiery color that glints golden in the summer sun, as though the flesh were gold under the translucent, sanguine skin. But regardless of my staring, the roma tomatoes resisted the red. It's the sun's eye they need, not mine.

A few days ago, though, two of them had gone dark enough to pluck, finally. Today I ate one for lunch. I rubbed my nose on it, but this oblong fruit did not have the tomato perfume I craved... I even tried biting straight into it, but though it was certainly a tomato, the roma did not feel like a summer tomato. At last I sliced it up, along its latitudes. The circles were neat and pretty, like three-spoked wheels. I laid them on bread, with parmesan, and it wasn't the tomato I dream of in the wintry grocery stores. But it was summer enough.

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